Giant Faux White Herons


It’s not every day I nip out to the local shrine for a little photo taking and run into gaggle of women dressed as eight foot tall birds. Japan can be weird, but it’s not usually this weird! They were performing a thousand-year-old dance called Shirasagi no Mai, which means (unsurprisingly), White Heron Dance. It was originally performed as an antidote to that internationally pesky medieval disease, the plague, but because it was apparently not the magic bullet people had hoped, it fell into disuse until 1968, when shrine officials resurrected it from images in an old scroll.


If I had a pair of wings like this, my life would be complete.


Not sure how this was supposed to drive out the plague, but hey, who’s to say it doesn’t work? There haven’t been any epidemics in Tokyo since it was brought back in 1968, so…

For much more gifted photos of this dance, check out Tokyobling’s Blog! If you’re in Tokyo in April and would like to see the dance of the white herons, directions & a map are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo mystery series, now out for the first time in paperback


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